It shows that they obviously honour their traditions and dance but they're also pushing things forward, they're not stuck in the past.
—David Garneau, writer and director
Picture this: a peaceful scene of sky and grass. Then abstract bright colours dancing in slow motion.
Gradually you realize you're seeing the regalia of Aboriginal pow wow dancers. Then as the camera pulls back you see four Aboriginal dancers playing basketball, their feet doing intricate grass dance footwork while they are dribbling a ball.
That's the story of Hoop Dancers, a new video installation going up at Urban Shaman. Regina's David Garneau is the writer and producer of the 10 minute film.
Hoop dancer plays basketball at Standing Buffalo First Nations Reserve (David Garneau)
"There's a parallel between dance and sports," says Garneau. "Certainly this kind of dance is hard work."
Garneau's goal was to capture the form and colours of people dancing. "There's also the beautiful form of basketball," he says.
He also wanted to document the sense of joy and camaraderie between the young dancers. "Also, dance of this sort in every culture has gone on for generations. So there's a continuity I'm interested in."
The idea came to Garneau from a real life experience. He was at a pow wow and noticed some dancers, on a break between performances, playing basketball, just killing time. He used these same performers from Regina's Wambdi Dance in his film.
Garneau was interested in exploring Aboriginal men's relationship to tradition and to modern culture while at the same time being careful to not step on anyone's toes, so to speak. "I was really happy when they felt that it was not a betrayal of their art form.
Hoop dancer from Wambdi Dance, Regina (David Garneau)
"Their joy and pleasure come across so it's clearly a positive representation. It shows that they obviously honour their traditions and dance but they're also pushing things forward, they're not stuck in the past."
He liked the fact that the boys were just being natural, they were not acting. "I was so impressed with these young guys. They were really engaged in the process."Hoop Dancers opens at Urban Shaman's Media Gallery on July 5 and runs until August 2.
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